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Geologic units in Cape May county, New Jersey

Cohansey Formation (Middle Miocene, Serravallian) at surface, covers 56 % of this area
Cohansey Formation - Sand, fine- to coarse-grained, locally gravelly, massive to crossbedded, gray-brown or dark-gray; weathers yellow to white. Typically, the weathered sand is nearly all quartz or rock fragments of orthoquartzite. Where less weathered, small amounts (5-10 percent) of potassium feldspar are present. Interbedded with discrete beds of clay or silty clay, thin- to thick-bedded, massive to finely laminated, dark-gray; weathers white, yellow, or red. Darkgray beds commonly contain carbonized wood fragments, some of which are log size. The thicker clay beds occur in lenses that commonly have small to very large pieces of lignitized wood. An extensive, well-preserved leaf flora was collected from a very thick clay lens in the Cohansey near Millville, Cumberland County. The leaf flora were dominated by Alangium sp., a tree no longer growing in eastern North America (J.A. Wolfe, written commun., 1992). Locally, formation consists of several thin- to thickbedded, upward-coarsening sections (clay to sand). The depth of weathering ranges from 24 m (79 ft) in the ACGS-4 corehole near Mays Landing, Atlantic County (Owens and others, 1988), to 70 m (230 ft) in the Atlantic City corehole (F-F'). In the southern part of the southern sheet, in the Belleplain State Forest, Cape May County (G-G'), the formation consists of thin to thick beds of fine- to medium-grained, micaceous quartz (both colorless and green) sand and dark-gray to grayish-brown, woody clay. The sand is locally coarsely stratified (typically small-amplitude crossbeds) and locally highly bioturbated. The clay is extensively bioturbated. These beds represent the deepest marine beds found in the Cohansey in the New Jersey Coastal Plain. The basal contact with underlying units has considerable relief. The contact is sharp and commonly consists of a thin bed of fine gravelly sand. The original thickness of the Cohansey is difficult to ascertain because of extensive erosion. The formation lies in a broad channel and is thickest in the thalweg near Atlantic City where it is nearly 107 m (351 ft) thick. The base of the formation rises rapidly to the south and north of this channel axis. In downdip areas near Belleplain State Forest, the Cohansey contains marginal marine and shelfal facies. The shelfal facies is composed of interbedded, highly bioturbated, micaceous, slightly glauconitic quartz sand and massive clay. Most of the sand in the Cohansey is medium grained and moderately sorted although coarse and fine sandy beds also are common. Beds that have gravel as a major component are locally common in the mixed marine-nonmarine facies in the northeastern corner of the southern sheet. Here, the gravel occurs in well-defined channels. Most of the gravel is 2.5 cm (1 in) or less in diameter, although clasts up to 13 cm (5 in) in diameter have been locally observed. The gravel is mostly quartz or quartzite with lesser amounts of white and black chert. Previously, the age of the Cohansey was postulated from its stratigraphic position, its perceived contact relations with the underlying Kirkwood Formation (conformable or unconformable), and its macro- and microflora. The palynology of upper Tertiary formations in the northeastern United States is, however, only generally understood. Commonly, Pliocene beds have less exotic species than Oligocene or Miocene beds. If this is the case, then the Cohansey, which has a large number of exotics of some species, has more Miocene affinities than Pliocene, an age some have assigned to this formation. Ager (in Owens and others, 1988) discusses the microflora in the Cohansey near Mays Landing. He notes that the Cohansey has a large number of exotics similar to those in the underlying Wildwood Member of the Kirkwood, and because of this, thought the Cohansey to be Miocene. Pollen from the Cohansey at Belleplain also has a large variety of exotics in a warm temperate to subtropical pollen assemblage (Les Sirkin, Adelphi University, oral commun., 1991), which includes Clethra, Cyathea, Cyrilla, Engelhardia, Epilobium, Gordonia, Planera, Podocarpus, Pterocarya, and Symplocos. The major sources of tree pollen at Belleplain are pine, oak, and hickory. The contained dinocyst flora from marine beds at Belleplain can be correlated with the known dinocyst assemblages from the Choptank and the lower part of the St. Marys Formation of the Chesapeake Bay region and therefore is middle Miocene in age (Laurent de Verteuil, University of Toronto, written commun., 1991). These dinoflagellate data therefore confirm the Miocene rather than Pliocene age for the Cohansey. The strontium-isotope age from shells at the base of the Cohansey in an offshore well (ACOW-1) was approximately 11 Ma or latest middle Miocene or late Serravallian
Lithology: alluvium
Unnamed Formation at Cape May (upper Pliocene) at surface, covers 38 % of this area
Unnamed Formation at Cape May - Interbedded gravel, sand, and clay, massive to thickbedded. Informal unit described from a corehole at the Cape May Airport. The lower 18.3 m (60 ft) consists of interbedded gravel; medium- to very coarse grained, poorly sorted sand; and thin to thick beds of medium- to dark-gray, very woody clay. Gravel clasts are typically less than 0.64 mm (0.025 in) in diameter. The upper 12.2 m (40 ft) consists of a thick-bedded, medium-gray, extensively bioturbated clay-silt, which is overlain by an extensively burrowed, fine- to medium-grained glauconitic (about 5 percent) quartz sand. Quartz and siliceous rock fragments compose most sand grains. Feldspar is present in most samples but usually constitutes less than 10 percent of the sand fraction. No calcareous macrofossils were found in the burrowed intervals. Unit is known only to occur on the Cape May peninsula where it lies within a large channel. The unit is about 60 m (197 ft) in maximum thickness. The contact with the underlying Belleplain Member of the Kirkwood Formation is sharp and unconformable; a basal gravel bed as much as 1 m (3 ft) thick is present along the contact. The pollen assemblage in the lower part of the unit is dominated by pine and oak with somewhat lesser amounts of hickory and basswood. Spruce, hemlock, beech, alder, and black gum are minor constituents. Traces of fir, willow, birch, and sweet gum are present, as is exotic Engelhardia. The nonarborial pollen are a Multisia-type composite of the present-day Andean provenance which indicate an exotic cool climate. The lower assemblage suggests a cool-temperate climatic regimen. The pollen assemblage in the upper beds is dominated by oak and hickory with minor amounts of basswood, sweet gum, pine, and Multisia-type composite. Traces of cedar, willow, birch, alder, grass, and Sphagnum spores also are present. This assemblage probably represents a temperate climatic regimen (Les Sirkin, Adelphi University, written commun., 1991). The low percentage of exotic species is characteristic of the late Pliocene, and therefore, the unnamed unit at Cape May may be equivalent to the Beaverdam Formation of the Delmarva Peninsula of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Lithology: gravel; sand; clay or mud; silt
Belleplain Member of the Kirkwood Formation (middle Miocene, Serravallian) at surface, covers 3 % of this area
Belleplain Member - New member named for a corehole at Belleplain State Forest headquarters (Belleplain II). A thin gravel bed, containing gravel up to 1 cm (0.4 in) in diameter, is present along the contact with the underlying Wildwood Member. The gravel is mainly quartz with small amounts of phosphatized vertebrate remains and sharks teeth. The lower 10.5 m (34 ft) is massive to horizontally laminated, very diatomaceous, dark-gray clay or silty clay with common, small, thin-walled mollusks. This basal clayey unit is overlain by as much as 23 m (75 ft) of mostly sand. The lower 1.2 m (4 ft) of fine- to medium-grained, dark-gray, woody sand is interbedded with clay. These grade up into a fine- to medium-grained, massive, rarely crossbedded, medium- to dark-gray, micaceous, bioturbated, quartz sand. The sand in the upper 10.5 m (34 ft) of this interval becomes coarser grained and is extensively stained gray brown by humates. Sand in the Belleplain is mostly quartz with a minor amount of siliceous rock fragments. Potassic feldspar is a common constituent but typically is less than 10 percent of the sand fraction. The upper 10 m (33 ft) is finely laminated, dark-gray clay with common, thin interbeds of fine- to medium-grained, micaceous quartz sand. Flaser bedding is common in this upper clayey unit. Gamma-ray values are high for the clayey unit at the base (transgressive deposits) and low for the sandy unit above (regressive deposits). This high-low couplet is a distinctive gamma-ray pattern that is typical of most marine units in the New Jersey Coastal Plain (unconformity-bounded sequences that represent an asymmetric transgressive to regressive cycle of sedimentation). The Belleplain is restricted to the southern bedrock sheet and generally occurs in the subsurface except where younger Pleistocene units have deeply entrenched through the overlying Cohansey Formation and exposed it. The Belleplain is greater than 100 m (338 ft) thick along the coast from Strathmere, Cape May County, to Cape May, Cape May County. The age of the Belleplain was determined by using a combination of different fossil types. Andrews (1988) considers the diatom assemblage of Actinoptychus marylandicus, Coscinodiscus lewisianus, Delphineis angustata, D. novaecaesaraea, D. penelliptica, Rhaphoneis clavata, R. gemmifera, and R. scutula to be characteristic of East Coast Diatom Zone (ECDZ) 6 or Bed 15 (equivalent to the uppermost part of the Calvert Formation of the Chesapeake Bay region). Silicoflagellates recovered from the Belleplain include Corbisema triacantha, Distephanus crux crux, and D. stauracanthus. The co-existence of the diatom Coscinodiscus lewisianus with the silicoflagellate Distephanus stauracanthus indicates an age of 13.2 to 12.3 Ma (David Bukry, written commun., 1990). Strontium-isotope ages of the shells range from 14.7 to 12.3 Ma and confirm the paleontologic middle Miocene age. Pollen assemblages from the base of this formation in the Belleplain I core contain spruce, pine, oak, hickory, and poplar (all abundant) with black gum, sweet gum, maple, birch, and Myrica (all sparse). Exotics include Clethra, Cyrilla, Engelhardia/Momipites, Planera, Podocarpus, and Symplocos. This assemblage is a mixture of cooltemperate forms (spruce) and warm-temperate forms (oak, hickory, and exotics; a lowland assemblage). The pollen assemblage in the upper part of the formation lacks the cool-temperate elements and is, overall, a warm-temperate microflora, thus indicating a general warming of the climate during the time of deposition
Lithology: alluvium

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